In three seasons, against three classy sides, this is the first time South Africa have won the opening match of a Test series at home. Two seasons ago, they were massacred by Australia at the Wanderers. Last year they drew against England who were nine wickets down in the second innings at Centurion. South Africa needed to make a statement of intent in their opening match against a highly-rated Indian side this time around.
Intent is an understatement for what they ended up doing. It was as though they announced their dominance on the loudspeaker system at SuperSport Park. It was a near perfect assertion of superiority - a bruising performance with the ball and supremacy with the bat. Although the performance was clinical, it wasn't cold and there was plenty of passion about the way South Africa went about their business.
They had every right to, because of the number of record-breaking individual performances that were on display. Morne Morkel took career-best figures in the first innings, AB de Villiers scored the fastest hundred by a South African in Test history and Jacques Kallis reached his maiden double-ton, all occasions to invoke delight from the camp.
Of the three landmarks, it was the third that meant the most to the team as a whole. They'd been in Nagpur earlier this year when Kallis made 173 and through the years many of them have seen his attempts to reach the landmark that many great batsmen already had. AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Smith already had a 200 to their names and perhaps understood Kallis' desire better. Smith said as Kallis got close to the double, the dressing-room were engrossed in the contest within a contest that eventually saw Kallis break his hoodoo.
"The change-room was very emotional," Smith said. "Especially after lunch those last 15 runs, our palms were sweating. It was as though all of us scored 200 that day with him. We were pretty drained when we got out onto the field."
In the end, it wasn't that Kallis got 200, but that it only took him 270 balls to get there that was important in the context of the game. Kallis paced his innings well with first 100 runs coming in the least number of balls he has ever faced to get to a Test hundred. Although he started in measured fashion on the fourth morning, de Villiers kept the scoring-rate high as he reached a century in just 75 balls. The presence of de Villiers took the pressure off Kallis and ensured that he could get to his milestone and South Africa would have enough time to bowl India out.
de Villiers was vital because with him at the crease, South Africa scored and over five an over. Their entire innings was paced at 4.65 runs to the over, knocking the stuffing out of the Indian bowlers. There was some concern that South Africa would not declare in time to bowl India out, especially since they were unable to take 20 wickets in their recently completed two-Test series against Pakistan.
Kallis said that that concern was only external, because the team always believed in their bowling attack. "We realised that we'd gotten the ball in the right areas [in the UAE] and we did everything we could to take 20 wickets. If we could so those same things here in South Africa we would have our bases covered," he said. Steyn and Morkel used this Test to reaffirm their status as the world's most fearsome Test new-ball bowlers but the other bowlers also impressed with their discipline.
Paul Harris, the much under-rated spinner, was impressive in the manner in which he played his containing role, especially when Tendulkar and Dhoni were on the rampage. He was the only bowler to concede less than three runs an over and the two wickets he got, Virender Sehwag and Harbahjan Singh, were important ones. Harris is considered to be on the brink of losing his place every time he takes the field, but the administrators have given him a vote of confidence by not bringing Johan Botha back into the side.
Botha was part of the original 15-man squad which was named for the series and released to play for his franchise, the Warriors, during this Test. The other released members, JP Duminy and Wayne Parnell, were both brought back into the fold following good performances in the SuperSport Series over the weekend. Botha was not as successful as the other two, who scored 200 not out and took 3/72 respectively, but Andrew Hudson said the selectors wanted to keep the squad together.
Lonwabo Tsotsobe has a few more jitters. With Ryan McLaren already in the squad, there is a direct replacement for him. Now Parnell has been added. He brings the same left-arm variation as Tsotsobe which could make for an interesting competition between the two.
The smaller selection issues will pale in comparison to the bigger picture for South Africa, which is to claim a series win against a respected team. Smith has spent the past few years building a side that can resemble the Australia that humiliated his men in the past. They beat England and Australia away and he says they have achieved "outstandingly" so far. Beating India will go a long way to further their reputation as a team that's coming increasingly close to being labelled the world's current best Test side.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent